Maoists’ Nepal Banda: Day 1 of 7

Nepal Banda, the general strike, called by Maoist rebels to make King Gyanendra’s artless election drama, has made general Nepalis’ life very difficult.

The Banda has, as expected, affected the lives of general public. BUT inside Kathmandu, there were quite a few vehicles running here and there with passengers packed inside. Some of those passengers included armed soldiers who were given the task of safeguarding the public buses. When I boarded into a bus from New Baneshwor for Singha Durbar, two soldiers (one at the front gate of the bus and the other on the rear side) were cautiously keeping their eyes on who was entering the bus. I could sense some of the passengers were feeling strange but then driving in a Nepal Banda day must be a strange experience itself.

I could hardly doubt the driver of the bus was forced to do his duty by the government. That is why the presence of armed security forces inside a civil passenger bus was creating an uneasy environment. Were those passengers, including myself, enjoying a secure drive or the driver of the bus was doing his ‘duty’ at gunpoint?

For the first time in my experience with Banda, I did an official work on Sunday (Feb 5). I went to the Putalisadak Branch of Nepal Investment Bank to pay my mobile phone bills. The bank was open and running apparently as usual. There were quite a few people in the lobby and staffs at the bank were busy doing their duties. Amazed by this, I asked a staff, “So how does it feels to work in a Banda day?”

“Well, we have to come at office hours anyhow and do the duty,” he said. “But today’s Banda is a bit different. People are coming for business. But last time when seven political parties announced Nepal Banda, no one came. Today, as you can see, people are here with their works.”

For private banks like this one, there seems to be no problem as they mostly function in city area with their own security set-up. And Maoists cannot stop people from depositing money in whichever bank they decide. So for banks Banda by Maoists is not very much different than the usual business day. Though it would be a remark of exaggeration to say that their business was not affected by the Banda.

Meanwhile, major highways of Nepal (including those that link capital Kathmandu to other parts of the country) remained deserted despite the heavy security presence in the area.

We all know it is very easy to spread terror and the sense of insecurity than making people feel they are secure and living in peaceful environment. We cannot say the one-week-long Nepal Banda (General Strike) called by Maoist rebels is good. No, it is not. Though they have targeted to foil the artless election drama of King Gyanendra, Maoists could not not be commended for calling for a week-long closure. This is simply not going to help people.